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Friday, August 12, 2011

Amish solar-powered clothes dryer in Lancaster County PA, 8/11/11
We had a beautiful day yesterday here in Lancaster County with lower temperatures and humidity, a welcome relief!  Many of the Amish folks use a solar-powered clothes dryer.

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"Wrong Way Concurrence"

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9).

Highway sign, Wytheville, VA

Last week I shared a photo of an interstate directional sign I took along our journey and inquired as to what "spiritual" lesson there might be in the photo. It happens to be an example of what is known as a "wrongway concurrence".

Now in highway verbiage a concurrence occurs when two numbered routes use the same section of road. For instance in our area US Routes 11 and 15 run together through central Pennsylvania so that for awhile you are on both 11 North and 15 North at the same time.

A wrong way concurrence occurs when two routes run together but in apparently opposite directions. In the case of the photo there is a section where you are on I-81 north and I-77 south at the same time near Wytheville Virginia. The routes run concurrently seemingly in opposite directions based on the signage! (See here on a Google map)  

In his book, "The Invisible Hand", theologian R.C. Sproul points out that "the doctrine of concurrence refers to historical events in which the work of Providence has been acted out through human agencies. This means at the same time human agents are acting, God is acting in and through them."

Today's story is found in John 6:1-13 and recounts an occasion when a great crowd had followed Jesus to the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus then instructed His disciples to provide a meal for the thousands who had gathered rather than sending them home to eat.
Trouble is, He gave no instructions on how they were to successfully carry out this impossible feat. Philip, who apparently had some accounting background quickly calculated, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (Rather impressive math, since this was before they had "smart" phones.)

Another disciple, Andrew, brought a boy to Jesus who had "five small barley loaves and two small fish". Now I find the preciseness in the description interesting, especially the designation "small" in both cases.  I suppose the boy's mother had packed him a lunch adequate for his needs. Perhaps he, in his simple logic, approached Andrew with the offering of his lunch. Andrew probably felt a bit foolish suggesting this meager offering to Jesus so he followed it up with this sensible question,  "but how far will they go among so many?"

Jesus didn't answer him or try to reason with him. He had the people sit down and performed a mighty miracle of multiplication.

Today we need to understand that God is active even in the most mundane parts of our lives in ways that may seem senseless, such as the boy's tiny contribution. This little boy had no idea when he took his lunch that day that he would be memorialized in Scripture, but the Lord used his tiny portion to feed a vast crowd of 5,000, with leftovers to boot!

God is still working in the "mundane" today.  And he's still working in ways that may be similar to a wrongway concurrence. This little boy should give us incentive to heed the words of Paul: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15,16).
Small, seemingly insignificant, acts of faith and obedience have a major part in the mosaic of God's master plan for our lives.  We may desire to do something great for God, but often His plan is the simple day by day acts of obedience to Him in following His leadings, both large and small.  We'll just have to wait and see how it all fits together.  May the Lord help us, like the young boy and Andrew, to do what is within our power and trust God for the results!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we're grateful for the supernatural work You perform in our lives. Help us to follow Your leading in the small day to day promptings we receive from Your Spirit as we go about our activities. The miraculous way You provided for a crowd of thousands from one youngster's lunch is a great reminder that You take what we offer, multiply it, and use it for Your intended purpose. All glory be Yours in Jesus' name. Amen.

Steincross family photo, 2011 reunion in Gatlinburg, TN
Here's a photo of the entire Steincross family who were able to attend the family reunion this past weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We managed to snag a non family member who was walking by to take the photo. For those who are in our family, those who may know us, or for any who may be just plain curious here is a larger version!

Brown calf on Amish farm
Yesterday we resumed our chaplain visitation and in the course of our work passed through beautiful Amish Country. We went back a long lane to buy a bushel of peaches and saw this brown calf on the farm, who had a twin which the farmer told us is quite unusual.

Grapes on vine on Amish farm
We passed these luscious-looking grapes growing on an arbor right beside the road.

Amish self-serve produce stand in Lancaster County, PA
This small self-serve produce stand was way off the beaten path and maintained a very trusting means of collection!  There were two butternut squashes before we made our purchase.

Whiteboard witness
Mike, a friend of ours, had a new "whiteboard witness" message on his whiteboard.

Playing Pennsylvania bear cubs (photo by Mel Kurtz)
My friend Mel Kurtz took this photo of these playing bear cubs at his cabin in northern Pennsylvania in Tioga County! (Taken with a smart phone.) This was a bird feeder and Mel told me that they were in the process of tipping it over. We had bear in Tennessee near our cabin last week near the Great Smokies National Park but no photo

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Blessed Assurance"  Video  The Isaac's on a Gaither Homecoming

"Leaning On The Everlasting Arms"  Video  
Gaither Homecoming

For the cartographically curious here's some information about wrongway concurrence as it pertains to highways.

Here is information about the book I referred to in the message that deals with
the concept of concurrence and is a very good read for the theologically inclined. You can order by clicking on the link.

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good?  By R.C. Sproul / P & R Publishing - In a world steeped in anguish and evil, how can God be in control? Do all things really work for good? With head-on honesty and biblical insight, Sproul examines the difficult doctrine of divine providence. Discover how your Lord lovingly guides the events of your life without creating human wickedness or destroying human freedom. 224 pages, softcover from P & R.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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